Climate change, the diversity and power of statistics in action - VVSOR - VVSOR

Climate change, the diversity and power of statistics in action

To increase the visibility of statistics as a science, it is good to show the impact of statistics in scientifically and societally important discussions. Few discussions affect so many people and generate so much controversy as that around climate change. Therefore, we, the members of the board of the VVSOR, have chosen climate change as the subject for this year’s annual meeting of our society. Climate change very obviously offers many possibilities for statisticians and other types of quantitative modellers alike to develop and adapt models for describing meteorological trends.

Fred van Eeuwijk Fred van Eeuwijk

VVSOR President

The evidence for climate change is summarized by NASA as: strongly increased high CO2 levels, global temperature rise, warming oceans, shrinking ice sheets, glacial retreat, decreased snow cover, sea level rise, declining Arctic sea ice, extreme events, ocean acidification (https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/). A good and accessible overview of the evidence is shown in Al Gore’s movies ‘An inconvenient truth’  from 2006 and its current sequel ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power’. When you watch these movies climate change looks plausible based on the shown evidence, but as a statistician you would like to see more in depth treatment of the underlying statistical models and inferential procedures. This is surely true for the research about the relation between climate change and human activity and how to identify the causal mechanisms underlying climate change with the purpose of defining interventions to reduce climate change and its consequences.

 

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In the program for the 2018 annual meeting, multiple aspects of statistics that bear on the question of climate change will be presented and discussed. There is room for strongly mathematical contributions (data-assimilation) alongside applied contributions (species distributions as restricted by climatic conditions, birds avoiding wind turbines), climate change is approached from a social science (energy use behaviour, communicating uncertainty) as well as a life science perspective (species distributions), there is attention for modelling of spatial and temporal trends as well as the logistical aspects of food supply chains being optimized. Furthermore, there will be speakers with substantial knowledge of meteorological and geological processes that can add another dimension to the discussion.

The annual meeting of last year, around the subject of health care, was evaluated very positive by its attendants. One appreciated the on average high quality of the speakers and their contributions. But one comment that we kept in mind was that there should have been more time for interaction among the attendants. Therefore, this year the program is spread out over one and a half day, starting Wednesday afternoon 28 March and continuing Thursday 29 March, with ample time for interaction at especially the end of the first day. The scientific part of the first day will have contributions from speakers with special knowledge of the subject, Geert Jan van Oldenborgh en Sjoukje Philip (KNMI), Sander van der Linden (Cambridge University, UK) and Salomon Kroonenberg (Delft University of Technology). After these presentations, we have planned the Algemene Ledenvergadering and the presentation of the results of a hackathon organized by our Data Science section. The scientific part at the Jaarbeurs will be concluded with some drinks, after which we will move to Stadskasteel de Oudaen for a dinner and party, including a pub quiz.

The latter two elements are organized by the Young Statisticians. We hope and expect that in this set up we have created a stimulating environment for professional interactions. The program of Thursday 29 March will have a lectures type of design close to that of the classical annual meeting, with some time for interaction as well. Also on that second day we will have the ceremonies around the Willem R. van Zwet and Jan Hemelrijk Awards.

We believe that we have been able to contract an excellent set of speakers with a program that should appeal to a wide audience with interest in one or more fields of statistics, operations research, decision support, and data science. We therefore hope that many of our members will turn up. And of course non-members are very welcome too, we would love to meet them!

For more information see: www.vvsor.nl/am2018

Gepubliceerd op: January 21, 2018